Friday, June 15, 2007

Proverbs and Stereotypes

I've been thinking lately that stereotypes, ethnic, political or other, are self-evidently valid categories in which the greater portion of humanity registers itself. Stereotypes, for better and for worse, reveal a great number of incontrovertible truths of human behavior to us, and if most of these seem distasteful to us, it's only because human behavior, more often than not, also is, or ought to be. When I write "for better and for worse" I have in mind the following premises; firstly, that an examination of mankind that acknowledges the value of stereotypes promotes in us a more comprehensive realism. Secondly, and on the negative side, it also causes us to assess people more as a sequence of predictable actions and reactions than as fellow human beings.

Nevertheless, these typifications of human nature cannot be denied wholesale, or if they can, we may as well throw out the greater part of our proverbs, commonplaces and aphorisms along with them.

More on this in a bit.

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